13.09.2012 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

UNESCO concerned by death threats against Nepali artist Manish Harijan

UNESCO expresses concern about recent death threats against Manish Harijan, a Nepali artist, whose works are on show at one of Kathmandu’s art galleries. The death threats were caused by paintings combining images of Hindu deities and Western superheroes.

“The right to freedom of expression must also apply to artistic expression. Tension that may arise between artistic creation and religious and ethical values should be openly discussed instead of becoming subject of intimidation or even death threat to the artist”, says Axel Plathe, Head of the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu.


Art has always driven change and must be given the liberty to provoke new thinking. Artists must be guaranteed to enjoy this freedom.  


Freedom of artistic expression is guaranteed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.


Freedom of expression and communication is the essential prerequisite for all artistic activities. According to the Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist, adopted by UNESCO in 1980, Member States should see that artists are unequivocally accorded the protection provided for in this respect by international and national legislation concerning human rights.


But freedom of expression must be exercised in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual understanding, as a landmark decision of UNESCO’s Executive Board pointed out in 2006 (174 EX/Decision 46).



For media inquiries, please contact:

UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Tel: +977 -1 555 4396

Fax: + 977-1 555 4450

Email: Kathmandu@unesco.org

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